Shiraz: From Ground Zero to Heavenly Goods

Belly-dancer waiting for some Shiraz.

I am sure now that the late and recently blown-apart Osama Bin Laden is having his way with 40 virgins, he will be confronted with the kind of sated exhaustion that can only be cured with a glass of red wine. Something he, apparently, did not partake of during his relatively short ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ yet memorable – stint on earth.

Surely Moslem heaven, resplendent with tacky belly-dancers smelling of garlic and smoking hookah pipes and unable to contain their lust for just-deceased Fundamentalists is the kind of place you’d expect to find Shiraz? The grape apparently even originated in Persia in expectation of those kinky Rock the Casbahs.

Because let’s face it, Shiraz does have a propensity for leaning towards the sluttish side. Overblown, ripe, enough wood to build an ocean liner and dollops of sticky fruit make many New World shiraz wines about as elegant and discreet as a visit from the US Navy SEALS to a Pakistani compound.

But looking through the acres of junk on the market, when Shiraz hits the spot it does so with military accuracy. Bwah! “Shot to the heart, and who’s to blame/ You give other wines a bad name.”

During a recent stint at the Clanwilliam Festival, a panel of regional winemakers held a discussion and presentation to a few hundred members of the public visiting the area to pay homage to Afrikaans author, raconteur and bon vivant Louis Leipoldt. And here it was a Shiraz that got the crowd talking.

Driehoek is the name, and it heralds from the Cederberg, a spot whose vinous potential has in recent years been brought to fruition by David Niewoudt. Well, David actually also makes the Driehoek wines for its owners whose vines are in a different spot of Cederberg terroir than his own.

The Driehoek Shiraz 2009 is about to become one of South Africa’s finest Shiraz wines. I mean, the damn vines are only five years old, but look at this wine! Fan-bloody-tastic.

It spent 16 months in oak, but has a classic European savoury flavour, obviously the result of some seriously complex autolysis during barrel-aging. There’s sagebrush, a bit of lavender and thyme in the wine, before the pleasantly dry-meat and allspice tastes come gushing in all over the place.

There is not an off-note to be found: no farmyard, over-oaking or sluttish exuberance of stewed fruit. Fleshy, and pure and seamless as a virgin in Mecca heaven. But I’m getting my hands on as much of this stuff as I can before the next lot of potted rag-heads arrive.

A bit of a showman, the Anatu Shiraz is also bound to make an impression.

The winery is where the former Cordoba cellar used to be, with the fruit being sourced Paardeberg way. To add a bit of extra spice to the whole story, the wine is made by a piano-playing Israeli called Micu Narunsky, which I guess makes it a bit hard to swallow for Osama and his ilk.

The wine ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ Anatu – is a big tart, but in an agreeable Ellen Barkin sort of way. I mean, you know you are going to get your ashes hauled by drinking a bottle of this stuff, but the wine is not ashamed to say it is going to enjoy having its way with you.

The alcohol is 15% and then some. It is cloaked in smoky oak. And discreet and subtle she is not.

But sometimes you just have to lie back and think of Islamabad. It is an exotically exciting wine, sensual and naughty with aromas of Opium perfume and freshly sweated Cuban thighs on which Cohibas have been rolled. The mouth-feel is big and for the deep throated. And explosion of spicy fruit, with bright African sunlight being the driving force.

The 2006 and 2008 are memorable vintages for Anatu. When I look at this bottle I am reminded of the revered words “if it feels good, do it”. And even I don’t mind this at all.

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